Writers and cats

This is Ashbutt. Unlike dogs, I have no fear of naming him on the internet, because cats don’t come when called.

Well, he’s Ashbutt to everyone except one very proper vet tech. She made the name on his file “Ashbottom.” She also noted him as a “smoke point maine coon mix.”

But he’s not very prim and proper, and his grey undercoat wasn’t the reason for his name. He’s a barn kitten who was snuggling up to the firepit in order to get warmth, and singing his whiskers, and getting white-grey ashes all over his black butt when he sat in them. He has a purr that was all outsized for his tiny body – how were we to know he’d grow into his purr? Certainly, we didn’t get told there’s been a maine coon male hanging around the barn shortly before he came into the world.

We learned that when he started playing fetch, and confirmed when he grew, and grew, and grew, and grew.

But he’s more than simply an animal; he’s a story woven into our lives, by a character with his own motivations, and a brain the size of a walnut that has all day to think about how to try to get what he wants. Which is how he watched us, and tried, and tried, until he finally learned to open doors. Sigh.

Fortunately, his general approach to the world is “Dude? Dude. Duuuuuude. Chill, dude, it’s all good.”  (Which is the polar opposite of our other cat.) Unless tuna is involved.

And he’s a connection to community, starting from the first mental image I have of him, which is of LawDog asleep in the sun on a camping chair on a nippy fall afternoon, hat over his face, and kittens curled up all over him and in every pocket.

Later, the farmer, who is a dear friend and one of those weathered gentleman, tough as old leather and for whom the word laconic was made, walked by me, and plopped the little bundle of fur on my chest. As tiny claws sunk into my sweatshirt and a purr welled up like a badly tuned diesel engine, my friend muttered, “You got to take that one home with you. He’s too cute for the ‘yotes to eat.”

I held the little bundle of fluff and purr, and when my husband came by next, informed him, “Well, I’ve been told! Guess we’re taking a kitten home!”

20 comments

      1. That, too, but we did teach them that calling their names means food or treat or at least skritches.

        Originally to see if we could teach them to come when called, then later because the agoraphobic idiots need a way to get back to the house if they get out.

        1. Ours come to the door when they hear it close – they’ve been locked out overnight enough times to realize the door closing sound means “and now you’re stuck!” Sometimes that means slamming the door quite loudly to be sure they hear it, wherever they may be lurking about.

      2. I call my barn cats by banging a metal pan on the concrete. They know this means cat crack, er, milk is about to appear, bringing even the shy ones into range.

        This is also why they all think their name is “Milk!”

  1. I get some weird-colored kittens in my little barn colony. This week it was…

    — two black tabbies (black where a normal dark tabby would have brown)
    — black tabby with orange undercoat on the neck (male, so rather odd)
    — black tabby with bright orange forehead (female)

    1. The one I had in my teen years used to bite my eyelids when it was time to let him out for breakfast. Granted, he slept in my bedroom with the door shut (he being my own cat rather than a family cat), so he’d learned to depend on me for meals.

      He’s the only cat I’ve seen get run over by a mouse. Lazy schmuck.

  2. I dunno. My dogs don’t need to be called by name to come running over and meet a stranger. (Although the stranger might not enjoy the experience. Especially if it’s one of the females.)

  3. I can attest to Ashbutt’s mellow nature, at least until someone gets out the string-n-stick. Think paracord on the end of a 1X4, used for cat fishing. Or when he does battle with the mighty tickleweed.

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